Millicent Chapanda is a British-based Zimbabwean Shona cultural artist, traditional mbira player, percussionist, singer, dancer and storyteller. Her music is nourished by Zimbabwean traditional ceremonials where vibrant spiritual & secular music is a key part of bringing people together in devotion, praise, reflection & celebration.
Millie’s mission is to bring the lived experience of women in Zimbabwe onto the international world music stage through performance, and although her music goes deep into ancient cultural heritage, it’s clear that she is keen to sing out loud for change on gender issues and the barriers affecting women in the diaspora & back in her home-country, and this gives her a real edge onstage.
‘The only way I can describe what I do, is that I love our music…it brings people together and we just forget about everything else!’
A Millicent Chapanda performance is a celebration Shona-style that calls on dancing ancestral spirits to rise through the trance of mbira’s cascading notes to answer the call of the voice & the insistent pulse of deep ngoma drum & hosho shakers
“Mbira musician, Millicent Chapanda just exudes presence and confidence, she is a great entertainer and that's no mean feat. From the get go, or from the very first lengthy Mhururu, Millicent had the packed audience in the palm of her hand. I haven't heard or seen anything like it since... Never. Since I'd never seen such a joyous performance so riotously embraced by an audience.” [Outsideleft, 2020]
Since arriving in the UK 20 years ago, Millie has been an essential part of the lively Zimbabwean cultural diaspora, first recording & touring with the legendary Batanai Marimba and World Muzik Makers, then collaborating with Anna Mudeka & Kuda Matimba’s Harare band before performing & touring with the late great Chartwell Dutiro in his last years. She has performed onstage at WOMAD, London Barbican & Royal Festival Hall, at Shambala, Afrika Hertme (Netherlands) & countless other festivals and arts venues over the years.
Millie is also the founder of Mbira Blues, a UK forum that shares & connects traditional mbira musicians, mbira enthusiasts, academics & cultural activists, and is a key member of the Midlands arts & refugees network Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham.
Onstage: vocals, mbira, ngoma, hosho, storytelling